Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who's on the Lord's side

(Ex. 32 is a chapter where the children of Israel are up to no good.  Aaron says they tend to get into mischief.  It says at one point that Moses's anger waxed hot. A few verses down he asks the big question. "Who is on the Lord's side?" Those who were, were asked to gather themselves (vs 26).

I like how Moses asked "who's on the Lords side?", and didn't ask who was on his side. At a crucial moment it kept the focus on the Lord, and not on himself. To me a sign of a true messenger.

But what a stinging question he asked applicable to everyone at any moment since we have all been warned there is idolatry and mischief in our own day.

The Lord says "Come unto me".  We have been invited to be on the Lord's side and gather ourselves around Him. Hopefully we hear and respond to it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

All are Welcome

The following quote I found enlightening. It's part of a much bigger discussion of coming to Christ, so that is what he refers to by saying that all are welcome.

 "All of you are welcome, whatever circumstances you find yourself in here in mortality. Your circumstances are His gift to you, because they are uniquely fitted to refine you so you can return to Him. Don't reject them as distractions, but use them to propel yourself upward. Gravity is at first the enemy of the infant, but soon becomes the play-thing by which all children learn to run. The faster they recover from the forward fall, the faster they run. Learn from your life's specific gravity to run back to Him. Be grateful for your lot in life. It was carefully given to you for your blessing and development." (The Second Comforter)

Related to this is something I learned from the book of Hebrews (click on the link, Heb. 12: 5-6, 11-12). "Whom the Lord loves, he chastens." Sometimes when such things happen, when life brings hardship or great difficulty or God see's fit for something we wonder if God really loves us. Maybe he doesn't really care we may wonder to ourselves. The opposite is actually true. When God chastens it's actually a sign that he does love, it's a sign of many good things. According to Hebrews vs 6 it's a sign that your part of the family, a son. Verse 11 says "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." So although the Lord's dealings can be very challenging, it's temporary, and it results in peace, the peaceable fruits of righteousness. I believe that's the true perspective to keep.

It could be said there are 3 main types of chastening from the Lord. Following God brings plenty of all three, which again, is a very good thing.

Corrective. When the Lord corrects you, shows you an error, or problem that needs to be addressed. Maybe he starts reworking your foundation, your internal life, it can be searing to the soul. This is truly a blessing when considering the outcome it has. With that view it's hard to question the Lords love in what he does.

Preventative. When God orchestrates events and situations of your life that in fact are designed to prevent a catastrophe later on. There are coming collisions, there is a day of judgment, there are critical things going on in eternity. If life deals us a situation we don't like, circumstances are far less than ideal... it may be wise to ponder in your heart how the Lord often does preventative work with us. Sometimes our circumstances in fact prevent far worse things from happening down the road. This is very loving.

Teaching. The third main type of chastening could be categorized as teaching. The Lord teaches us by our experiences (D&C 122: 7). One of the main purposes of life was to learn by our own experience to distinguish the good from the bad. The Lord teaches us by what we pass through (Rom. 5: 3-4). Some experiences help us have compassion for others, some experiences help us understand eternal truths, others work patience and wisdom. How important are wisdom and patience? I think consequences are a great teacher, it's how the universe works. We certainly can't blame God for not being loving when we make a series of poor choices and then don't like the consequences. Thankfully God is patient.

The Lord indeed loves as a perfect Father. There is no mistake in what He lovingly does, and no mistaking that it is loving. Verse 12 from the above Hebrews scripture: "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees" What once were hands hung in defeat, are hands lifted in praise and worship, able to give. Feeble knees become firm knees, kneeling before He who is Holiness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seperation from the Love of God

Rom. 8: 38-39 says: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

God holds onto us. Sometimes its hard to "realize" that unless or until you've let go.

He holds us first, which allows us to hold on to Him. “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He promised.

Necessary preparation

D&C 38:30 says among other things "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"

Alma in the book of Mormon in Alma 5 addresses a group of church members and he tells them they are not prepared to meet God unless they have undergone various changes. Examples are "being stripped of pride and envy" (Alma 5: 29) "being spiritually born of God" (Alma 5: 14), a mighty change of heart etc.. He informs them that meeting God is not going to be an enjoyable experience unless they wake up and remember the Word of God and prepare. That is a bit of a frightening statement. But it can also be extremely helpful.

A funny quote I heard the other day went like this. "When getting a job these days it's not what you know but who you know." He then went on to say "Something similar applies to getting to heaven, it's not what you know, it's WHO you know". His obvious reference was Christ. Thought his way of phrasing that was interesting.  Knowing facts about Christ is different from knowing Him. One is personal, the other can be just lifeless trivia.

Temporal preparation is great, but it gets almost all the focus.  Alma redirects our focus, and the type of preparation important to our eternal welfare towards spiritual things.  We should all heed modern council to have financial reserves for rainy days, food storage, minimal debt, etc....  however there is also a day of judgment awaiting all of us.

Spiritual preparation often goes unmentioned when talking about preparation in our day.  Food storage and the like will not be all that helpful during that evaluation. I just saw a news clip of a flight instructor and student down in Payson Utah who for whatever reason were involved in a plane crash killing both. They get to face the day of judgment before the day when their temporal preparation would have been helpful. The families will no doubt be grateful if there have previously been financial preparations made.  However what matters for their soul, is not their food storage.  My heart goes out to them. For the two who passed, their second estate, the day to prepare to meet God just ended. "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear"  is the often quoted scripture on preparation.  Implicit in that is that the absence of fear is related to what you are prepared for. Are you prepared to survive an earthquake? Or to survive the day of judgment? Hopefully both.

My point is how short and precious is life? It can be very short, or long, we don't know. There is no substitute for matters of the soul and preparation.

The spiritual companions to temporal preparation are probably very personal, these are just ideas intended to compliment aspects of temporal preparation.

Am I out of debt?
Am I out of Spiritual Debt? Do I know God or just know facts.... and trust in other's for my assurance? Do I have a burning testimony of Jesus Christ and faith in the Atonement and it's reality with regard to my own soul and sins. Or was the last time I thought about it because I was at church.

Do I own my home?
Do I possess charity? Do I gather light and intelligence from the scriptures all that often? To quote Alma, "have I spiritually been born of God"? Do I rely on the scriptures at all for guidance?

Do I have a year supply of food (and where possible, fuel)?
Do I have oil in my lamp? 5 foolish virgins in Christs parable had on the wedding "garment" yet no oil in their lamps and were unrecognized by the Master. (strongly connecting to "being recognized" is having received Christ's image in your countenance Alma 5: 14 )
Question is, what is the average oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) level in my lamp?

Do I have an emergency fund (at least a few months' worth)?
Do I notice fruits of the Spirit in my personal life? Do I know what Spiritual gift(s) are the ones God gave me? Is it largely dormant, or active and developing?

To the extent possible, am Self sufficient?
Do I have a personal relationship with the divine? What are the predominant thoughts and intents of my heart dwelling upon? Christ said many people "draw near to me with their lips, but hearts are far from me". Lord, is it I?

I hope this has been worth reading. No use having food storage, and financial reserves only to arrive at the place appointed after death confused and not quite prepared, wishing more had been done with the time allotted on earth. I personally think these thoughts are worthwhile things to think about during those quiet moments when it's not necessary to be focused on the temporal affairs.

We bottle or can foods and fruits to "seal" them and preserve them for times of need. The sealing power of God also is intended to preserve a soul, such things are good preparation come the day of reckoning.

We should do as Alma councils, seek the Lord now while his arms of mercy are extended towards us. What good prophetic council. (Alma 5: 33)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I heard once that our minds must align with Faith. Faith leads, consciousness follows.

As an EMT I often dealt with various levels of consciousness, people who were unconscious, or had what we call an "altered" state of consciousness. Drugs and alcohol often lead to these altered states.

If consciousness can go one way, like passing out, it makes sense it can also go the other way. Raise to an increased state of consciousness of yourself, things, people and your surroundings. Maybe temporary, maybe slowly growing, who knows.

The scriptures speak of becoming conscious of something. Alma 14: 6 "And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell."
People in the scriptures are said to become conscious of their own guilt. Previously they were oblivious to it, but under this new state of consciousness they suddenly see the value of repentance and are often moved to seek God in profound and personal ways. They change in orientation and begin to live in ways that serve, teach and love their fellow man.

I find that super interesting.

Joseph Smith once said: "
“We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment.”9

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is the real issue?

This scripture has something classic, and is very interesting. (Mosiah 17: 7-9) Wicked King Noah has just been prophesied about by prophet Abinadi. The king is upset at hearing that he is wicked and that he will be destroyed unless he repents. Here is what the King says starting in verse 7: (I think there is truth that when we point a finger at others there are three more pointing back at ourselves)

7 And he said unto him: Abinadi, we have found an accusation against thee, and thou art worthy of death. 8 For thou hast said that aGod himself should come down among the children of men; and now, for this cause thou shalt be put to death unless thou wilt recall all the words which thou hast spoken evil concerning me and my people.  9 Now Abinadi said unto him: I say unto you, I will anot recall the words which I have spoken unto you concerning this people, for they are true; and that ye may know of their surety I have suffered myself that I have fallen into your hands.

Notice how the accusation was about God himself coming down among the children of men, this was why Abinadi was apparently worthy of death. These are religious, doctrinal reasons for accusing Abanidi, somehow this offended them deeply.  Yet, the reason Abinadi would be let off the hook is if he would "recall all the words thou has spoken evil concerning ME and MY PEOPLE".   The alleged accusation dealing with false doctrine, and the way to get out from under the penalty of that accusation are not even the same subject. Did you catch that?  One dealt with God, and doctrine, the other deals with retracting statements about the King and his people being evil. They would forget all about the God coming down stuff, and let him go if only Abinadi would retract the part about the King and His people being evil. A bit of a disconnect there if you ask me.  An interesting loophole.  Abanidi wasn't phased. He taught true doctrine, and refused to retract the truth he had spoken about the King and his people.    

If Abanidi was worthy of death for saying God would come down, you'd think retracting that statement would then free him of the accusation.  But it didn't.  The real issue, as the priests and king saw it, was the personal attack they felt.  Goes to show that it's foolish to act when angry, and how important it is what folks you choose as your advisers. His anger blinded him and he was lead astray by those advisers he trusted in.  They initially accused him of preaching false doctrine, but the real issue was he offended them.  They would use all sorts of backwards logic to condemn him.  Because they were offended.  It didn't matter that what he said was true, they wanted him dead because he offended them and made them look bad.

Abinadi was such a great type of Christ. He was accused, maltreated and sent back to God by the people he was trying to save, in reality he was innocent and indeed sent from God. Abinadi was very much a type of Christ.

On a side note related to where fingers point, notice how when you ask for something, and then go to receive it with your hand, like with slightly cupped hand and upward facing palm that all of your fingers are pointing upwards (truly from above is where we receive) and the thumb is towards the giver. Very different than an accusers finger placement.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An interesting question

If a man is authorized to speak for God, like the Prophet, does that mean that God must then keep quiet?

Is there such a thing as a prophet outside of the church organization? What about a prophetess?
There were lots of those in the scriptures. Prophecy is a gift of the Spirit, everyone is counseled to seek after the gifts of the Spirit. Not everyone is called to preside over the church, and no one is called to disrupt the hierarchy but everyone is called to draw near unto God.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

By God's own voice of the voice of servants

Wanted to write about a few common D&C verses that are quoted frequently enough that they have developed into a piece of the LDS culture itself.   The problem is they are taken out of context and misused to teach something the verses themselves do not teach.  If this sounds like just my opinion keep reading.  I think by the end hopefully it's clear that the context of the actual scripture cannot be removed without altering the meaning of the verses completely. 

LDS religious culture has roots to these scriptures so I think them worthwhile to take a closer look at. 

D&C 1:38

Doctrine and covenants 1:38. ".... whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

Sound familiar?  That passage of scripture is typically used and quoted just as I have used it above.  Without context and using and ellipsis: "....".  The verse is short enough to not merit "...." but people use one anyway.  Why?  Why cut out such a small part of such a small verse?  Are we really that short on a attention span?

As it turns out this is a pattern of omitting half the verse and it's really common in LDS culture and LDS General Conference talks.  It causes the verse to seemingly saying something which is not supported by the scripture itself.   I'd watch out for this.  You could almost make a verse say whatever you want by removing half of it.

Here's a bit more context
D&C 1: 36-38 And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world. Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
The only portion typically quoted in Sunday School or even General Conference is the last part. ".... whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

What's the message you get when that is the only part of the verse you are given?  The message comes across that we have no reason to doubt anything a leader of the Church says because it’s the same as if the Lord Himself had said it, right?  Wrong.  Tuns out our high school English teachers were right about a little thing called context.  And when we misquote people or manipulate source material for some other agenda we risk doing damage to everyone involved.  Seems it would be even more important to keep this in mind in matters of God's word.  Perhaps we should be double careful when we use scripture to teach something.
But back to this verse.  When you look at the entire context of that verse we learn that the oft quoted  tiny phrase is actually just a small part of a whole idea. That idea is a continuation of the preceding verse, and as you can read above is basically stating that the Lord has given us many prophecies and they will all be fulfilled. Because God cannot lie.  The Lord will not make excuses for seemingly unfulfilled prophecies or things He has said.  Even though the heavens and the earth, which are practically eternal in comparison to human lifespans, will pass away, His Word will never pass away.  All His word will be fulfilled.

But what about mans words?  What about mans' philosophies?  What about man's opinions?  What about false and vain things said in the name of Jesus Christ by people in religious authority?  What about someone giving their best ideas and best advice?  Does this verse promise those will be fulfilled?  Nope.  Those are not promised to be fulfilled. The only thing promised to be fulfilled are God's words, His promises, and prophecies He gives.  

Then comes the familiar part where The Lord says whether that fulfillment comes by His own voice or by the voice of His servants, "it" is considered the same.  Regardless of who the players are.  Even enemies of God sometimes unknowingly fulfill Gods prophecies.  The entire premise of this verse is God keeps His promises.  He owns what He says.  Doesn't matter who the mouthpiece is.  God can speak through any means and when he does, he owns it.  But it ends there.

What is "it" referring to anyway when it says "it is the same"?  The object of "It" has to have reference to the previous part of the verse "What I the Lord have spoken". Whether the Lord speaks it himself or he authorizes someone else to speak it, "it" can be viewed as the same.  But if He didn't speak it, nor authorize it, and if the message is not in alignment with Him then it's clearly not the same.  So we have to discern if what we hear originated from God or not.  Because the only promise we have of fulfillment is if God was the originator.

What this verse being discussed is not saying is that a person's Church office or calling automatically makes their words the same as if God spoke. That's backwards. If the words spoken are not in aliment with God's words, then it's a false claim to say "it" is the same as if God spoke.  No one can can just say stuff that makes you feel good, or share their own ideas and opinions and philosophies then claim it is the same as if God said it. And therefore it will be fulfilled. Nope. That's a little ridiculous when you think about it. That would amount to God being obligated to honor man's words simply because the man held a religious position of authority. That's making God obey man.

Whatever someone holding a Church office says obviously does equate to God's word unless God gave the message.  This makes discernment all the more important.   Joseph Smith remarked that a Prophet is only a Prophet when acting as such. (TPJS pg 278).  Everyone has the freedom to think and act for themselves. Our duty is to discern when God's Spirit accompanies a message.  God vouched for Joseph Smith's words.  I have not seen any revelation since Joseph's day with any similar endorsement.  I believe we should honor and value what Joseph Smith said and gave us.

D&C 68:2-4

Another example of a verse often (mis)used to communicate and validate the cultural belief that whatever someone in authority says is scripture:
D&C 68: 2-4 And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth— 3 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. 4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.
This verse says: And whatsoever "they" shall speak....shall be scripture.  So there are some limits.  Who is "they"?  The chapter heading identifies some specific Elders.  They is also those who are ordained unto "this" Priesthood.  So what Priesthood is that?  Aaronic?  Melchizedek?

The other limit stated in the verse are those who have a mission appointed unto them to go forth.

Another limit stated in the verse is "as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost".   Ok so the obvious limit here is it's only the mind and will of the Lord, and scripture, if the speaker is moved upon by the Holy Ghost.  Even if "they" and "their" priesthood meet the requirements.  The person still has to be "moved upon by the Holy Ghost".

The priesthood office alone in the LDS church doesn't confer this ability to speak the mind and will of God.  Despite some traditions stating it does.  The condition is "as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost".  The Holy Ghost as we know bares record of the Father and Son.  It's the instrumentality through which God works.  So rather than someone sharing their own opinions, their own ideas, or own philosophies, this limitation to me seems to clearly limit the "scripture" to only things coming from the Holy Ghost. Not the man. Seems like common sense that God isn't obligated to own words and messages a man speaks that God never gave, never endorsed and never vouched for.  As 2 Peter says: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

D&C 21:4-5

Here's another verse that is often used out of context, and manipulated to say something different than what the text actually says.
D&C 21:4-5 " Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
I'm surprised the English teachers of the word don't notice this one being blatantly removed from it's context, and the grammar, which is right there in the heading and in the verse.  That verse is used consistently in general conference as support for why the members should look to the (Current) President of the LDS church and what he says as if from God's mouth.  See example from General Conference here.  Yet, if you read the scripture verse in context it's unmistakably clear and unmistakably NOT saying what many speakers, top leaders, as well as manuals have used the verse to teach.   

Here's the verse in context.  The revelation heading is important. It reads: Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Fayette, New York, April 6, 1830.  This revelation is to Joseph Smith.  As the first few verses indicate. This is a revelation to Joseph, about Joseph.  That's why the first few verses use "he" and "his" in the singular.  (parenthesis below are mine).  Because it's about Joseph.  Which is obvious if you don't take this out of context.
Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou (Joseph) shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,  Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith. Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April. Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his (Joseph's) words and commandments which he (Joseph) shall give unto you as he (Joseph) receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his (Joseph's) word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
The revelation is referring specifically to Joseph Smith who's message God vouches for.  I says so right there in the heading.  There is no justification for taking the verse, ignoring the singular grammar see before my red words above, and the context, and go applying it to any subsequent leaders of the Church.  Where in the verses is any such license given?  In what industry or arena is it ok to take what specifically applied to 1 individual, and apply it to future other people?  This type of thing wouldn't be tolerated in even the political sphere.  Yet it's passed by in the religious sphere in matters of God speaking to man.  That misuse and out of context utilization of these scriptures would seemingly concern people but it doesn't.

What's also of note here is how important God things Joseph Smith's words are. The LDS church drifts or discards what Joseph Smith taught more each year.  Many topics taught by Joseph are never taught or mentioned.  Just look at the manuals and seminary and institute manuals.  In place of Joseph's Teachings are more and more conference talks. Because as you saw last post, a living prophet is more important than a dead one.  God vouched for Joseph.  I have not heard God vouch for subsequent Church leader's words.  That doesn't mean people don't say nice things.  Of course they do.  But if nothing else, we should appreciate, value what Joseph taught.  Based on what God himself said.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

14 fundamentals of following who?

President J. Reuben Clark taught: "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed" (Quinn, The Church Years, p 24.) 

Many of the revelations that were given to Joseph Smith, and which we’ve preserved in the Doctrine and Covenants, were specific to him or to another person or group of people. We’ve taken a lot of liberty in applying many of those scriptures to those who lead the church today.

Examples of this can be found in a talk that was given in 1980 by Ezra Taft Benson (found here), and repeated again twice in General Conference in 2010. In that talk he used many scriptures to teach principles about the president of the Church that were revelations speaking specifically about Joseph Smith. Though it is possible the Lord had every successive generation and its leaders in mind when the revelations were given, that is not indicated by the scriptures themselves.

The 14 fundamentals are listed below. Christ's most basic teachings are to simply to "follow Him".  "Come, Follow Me".  Is his call to everyone.

When we redirect his teachings and turn that into following his servants, I don't think that improves his message and in many instances it distracts from it.  It's still Him we should follow.  I think it's ok to pay attention to what we are taught from the pulpit.  It's ok to wonder if what we are being taught is correct.  In fact we should.  No one is perfect.  We are to trust the Spirit only, not a pulpit, and a title.

I think the Lord's church has been seen up with the President of the Church being the only one who receives revelation for the entire church.  But that doesn't not mean he is the only one that is invited and can speak with God.  Everyone is invited to speak with God.  We are also called to sustain, support, and pray for our leaders.  What is not in the scriptures is for us to elevate the Lord's servants until they almost become celebrities, with the President being so elevated and infallible that he becomes almost an object of worship.

The following list is from the conference talks.  It's up to us to decide if these kinds of teachings point us towards the Lord, or to men.  His true servants point to Him, not to each other.  When we hear the Lord's voice in the voice of His servants we should follow.  However we are the ones who need to discern those moments from all other moments.

Read these and decide for yourself if we have been lead astray by the precepts of men.

First fundamental. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything” 

Second Fundamental. “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works”  

Third Fundamental. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

Fourth Fundamental. The prophet will never lead the Church astray”

Fifth Fundamental. “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time” 

Sixth Fundamental. The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. …

Seventh Fundamental. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know

Eighth Fundamental. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning. …

Ninth Fundamental. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual. …

Tenth Fundamental. The prophet may be involved in civic matters. …

Eleventh Fundamental. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. …

Twelfth fundamental. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly. …

Thirteenth fundamental. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church. …

Fourteenth Fundamental. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the first presidency—follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer” 


In the scriptures body parts often have symbolic meaning which helps us expand our understanding. One that sticks out to me is the nose. It’s a body part symbolic of discernment. 

We use our noses to smell the world around us and interpret what we smell, it adds to our overall experience of what to consume and what qualities things have. Dogs are known for having a good sense of smell.  They find hidden mischief with their keen sense where we may not look. The legend goes: "Dogs can sense fear". They are also known to be able to detect various diseases, bombs, drugs, and in many cases people who intend to cause others harm. 

 Humans in different ways use our smell to measure if our food is bad, IE the half empty almost expired milk jug, or we use it to simply enjoy and heighten our experience, or maybe even use it to prevent us from consuming something that has gone bad and will be harmful to our body. Since physical things testify of spiritual things I find the idea of discerning and the nose very fascinating.

Connected to this is the idea that truth tastes good, I've found it fills me in a similar way that a good food does. Alma in Chapter 32 of the Book of Mormon talks about planting a seed. This seed if treated properly becomes a baby tree of life and then matures to become a full tree complete with fruit that is precious above all. He talks about this process in terms of light, enlightenment, and truth, and how it “tastes” good, he uses words like "delicious" which also relate to taste. Nephi (1 Ne. 8: 11, 28) as well as Mormon (Morm. 1: 15) say similar things.

As we know taste is closely tied to smell. Have you ever been sick, lost your sense of smell with a stuffy nose or whatever and food just didn’t taste at all? Anyone had that experience? So we’ve all experienced a decrease in taste when our nose isn’t working right. Smell is a way to discern as well as taste. Well getting to the point, I think the good taste to truth has an important element of smell. Which means things that are not true, things there a false, have falsehoods in them or are slightly or very misleading can be detected by discernment. To discern something would be to sniff out something dead because that is where false things tend to lead, they end up dead. It's to detect the wolf in sheep's clothing. Wherever such a thing might occur. Christ in both the book of Mormon as well as the New Testament informs us that such a test is going to face all of us. (3 Ne. 14: 15, Matt. 7: 15) False or mingled teachings wherever they are found don’t save. So discernment is important as ever in everything we take in from any source.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bonds that make us free

Read an interesting counter intuitive thought today in the book "Bonds that make us free, healing our relationships, coming to ourselves." It's about true forgiveness.

It's illustrated in a story (true story but the name is changed). Lindsay was abused as a child. Much of the troubles of her life in one way or another stemmed from these early events involving a parent. Strong emotions clouded everything from social interactions, to her work and personal relationships. This went on for years and years. As she grew and matured she desired to have inner peace and saw she needed to forgive the perpetrator. This did not discount the incorrect things that had taken place, or make them somehow acceptable, but the forgiveness would free her from the inner prison and pain she had been living in. At one point it dawned on her that she had been wanting an apology before she would forgive. That wasn't true forgiveness, she continued to seek an answer and it soon dawned on her that she also needed to forgive the perpetrator for things SHE had done. She had been harboring terrible hatred, resentment and anger, as well as piling a lifetime of blame on them. This was her doing, and it was preventing healing. She found a burst of freedom by asking the person to forgive HER of all the anger and hatred and blame she had held towards them. Once she no longer needed to justify how wronged she had been, the heart softened and amazing healing began. Old patterns gave way to new life. What mattered most was not the past, but the present state of her own heart. Forgiveness heals even the deepest of wounds.